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Coined by American journalist David Goodman Croly in 1864 from Latin miscēre (mix) +‎ genus (race) +‎ -ation.[1]

The term was first used in an anonymous pamphlet which claimed to be written by a person who believed in the inherent unity of all racial groups, that marriage between the blacks and whites would create a better race, and that the American Civil War was a fight for the latter idea.[2][3] Later, it was exposed that the pretext of the pamphlet was false and that it had actually been written by a group which hoped to inflame anger. They particularly hoped to create anger against then-US President Abraham Lincoln who was up for reelection[3] and had recently abolished most forms of slavery in the United States.

Replaced previous amalgamation, from metallurgy. See further discussion.


  • IPA(key): /mɪˌsɛdʒ.əˈneɪ.ʃən/
    Rhymes: -eɪʃən
  • (file)


miscegenation (countable and uncountable, plural miscegenations)

  1. (chiefly US, see usage notes) The mixing or blending of race in marriage or breeding, interracial marriage. [from 1863]
    • 2018, Corey Pein, Live Work Work Work Die, Metropolitan Books, →ISBN, page unnumbered:
      Anissimov took to posting paranoid white supremacist rants on Twitter. Why, he asked, do “blacks get your own continent”? “European whites are being replaced and destroyed by ‘diversity,’” he cried. He denounced miscegenation and declared that women should be confined to the home.
  2. (figuratively) A mixing or blending, especially one which is considered to be inappropriate.
    • 1991, Frederick Turner, Rebirth of Value: Meditations on Beauty, Ecology, Religion, and Education, page 57:
      as is clear in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, it has a horror of any spiritual miscegenation between the human and the natural.
    • 1981, Dale Maurice Riepe, Asian Philosophy Today, page 22:
      ... if a miscegenation of Latin and Sanskrit may be permitted.
    • 2001, Ken Hirschkop, David Shepherd, Bakhtin and Cultural Theory, page 180:
      ...'true English' before it was bastardised in its miscegenation with the Norman French.

Usage notes[edit]

Often considered offensive, pejorative, or old-fashioned, and therefore alternative terms are more common in contemporary use, such as interracial, interethnic or cross-cultural for relationships, and mixed-race, multiracial, or mixed for persons.

In scholarly use, miscegenation is particularly used for historical discussions, and in current use it has been repurposed by academics to analyze the emotions, reactions, and anxieties held by people about interracial couplings. For further information also see English Wikipedia's page on miscegenation's section on its usage.


Derived terms[edit]

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “miscegenation”, in Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ David Goodman Croly (1864) Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro[1], New York: H. Dexter, Hamilton & Co
  3. 3.0 3.1 “The Miscegenation Hoax”, in Museum of Hoaxes[2], accessed 2008-04-02, archived from the original on 2008-01-19